Just when you thought Christmas was done
Choosing the “right” holiday event in which to take part is another issue. The Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker is usually a wise choice for the children. On the flip side, there is a plethora of Christmas-light festivals throughout the area.
For the last couple of years, the Christmas Jug Band, which features members of Those Darn Accordions and various Bay Area alumni, routed its West Coast tour to the beloved Palms Playhouse in Davis. Although the lineup has changed substantially since the band’s first incarnation, this 25th-anniversary tour did justice to its legacy. During some of the band’s early shows and on its current recording, the band even featured such talent as Dan Hicks, Angela Strehli and Maria Muldaur.
This year’s performance at the Winters Opera House, home of the new Palms, was the perfect setting, with its raised ceiling and high-school-auditorium-like stage.
Dressed up in red vests over T-shirts depicting a snowflake reading the word “Flake,” and some flannels, the ensemble played a loose set of standards and twists on traditional songs. From the opening “Winter Wonderland” to “Santa Lost a Ho,” the bulk of the set list was pure, slapstick comedy. Even when the between-song banter lost its spunk, such tunes as “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “Lonesome Reindeer Blues” made audience members feel fuzzy and warm all over. Members shared jugs, which supposedly were filled with various libations, and also indulged in a few pints of the Palms’ on-tap brews.
Certainly, some songs started off a little shaky, and band members had to be reminded of a song’s key. Miraculously, every song was working by its first verse. Like the Grateful Dead, the band meandered off during some tunes only to return with a resounding reprise. At one point, band members even walked through the audience while playing everything from washboard to kazoo.
The capacity crowd in attendance was treated to a lighthearted poke at St. Nick and was given the opportunity to join in on verses of “Hey Santa” and um, “Silent Night.” It’s no wonder why the Christmas Jug Band has returned to the Palms time and time again. After all, the holidays are about loosening that collared shirt and stepping out of work mode, aren’t they? What better way to start the festivities than by knocking back a little ale with a band that knows how to kick out the jams?
The Christmas Jug Band’s Uncorked CD is available on Globe Records. The band will return next year.